Posted by: shatteredblog | May 12, 2008

Thoughts on upcoming games

Tipa, on her amazing blog over at westkarana.com (you should be reading it!) made a post today about her feelings on upcoming games and it got me thinking that I should post my thoughts about games that are soon to be released. So, here’s my take on soon to be released titles like Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, The Agency and others.

The first thing I want to say is that player vs. player interests me very little, and it’s that which will probably keep me from checking out Age of Conan, and possibly Warhammer as well. It’s my feeling that online games aspire to be worlds in which teamwork and companionship are rewarded above selfishness and exploitation. The pvp dynamic I think can’t be done well, and it goes back to the need for teamwork to make online games work. You wouldn’t want to sink mmo levels of time into a game where there was one class and the skill for that class is ‘use gun’ and that is what a balanced pvp would need to be. There are already games like this, and I think it’s unnecessary to bring that into an MMO.

It may just be my opinion but I think online worlds can do without the general asshattery that comes from a pvp mindset as well. There’s a reason why people will wait to attack you in pvp until you are already fighting a pve monster. It’s the same reason why if the system allows it a high level character will target exclusively low levels in combat, the pvp mindset is an exploitative one. It explains why ‘teabagging’ is considered proper etiquette after a kill and it’s what keeps the 14 year olds coming back to their FPS games on the consoles. Your goal as a pvp player is to have fun at the expense of other people, and maybe it’s because I tend to play support classes and take things much more slowly in game but I don’t think playing a game on the wrong end of a pvp player’s barrel is fun. It’s why I don’t play FPS games in multiplayer and it’s why I’m leery of even looking at Age of Conan and planning to be disappointed by Warhammer.

Now, don’t take all that as me saying that AoC and Warhammer shouldn’t be made, or won’t be popular. I only think that AoC won’t be a game that attracts a rich community. It will be groundbreaking in that it will be the game that shocks developers out of their ‘sell to Wal-Mart’ mentality and makes them realize there is an aging gamer population that wants a mature gaming experience. It just isn’t the game I would have made to push that point.

Warhammer is a little different, because I already have some attachment to that world. I used to play the tabletop game, and I have a stack of White Dwarf mags and plenty of figures to cement my fan status. The problem I have is that the tabletop game was a massive strategy game, designed so that your army of carefully chosen units would face your opponent’s army of carefully chosen units of equivalent value and battle for supremacy. The problem is how to translate large-scale combat into an experience where the individual feels like he/she is contributing. Maybe a system where as you move up in rank you move through different job classes, so that at each rank you have a task you can excel in without feeling like a higher level could do your job better. It still remains to be seen how Warhammer will attempt to limit asshattery by design but again I am expecting disappointment. I may play, as I have a friend at work who is looking forward to it, but we shall see. When more news is released about the Warhammer 40K MMO that is also in development, I may be more enthusiastic… I spent much more time in that world than I did on the fantasy side.

What am I looking forward to? Mythos looks to be alot of fun, but the kind of fun that is good for a casual romp in the dungeon versus a deep character building experience. Seeing the news that they’ve reversed their original design philosophy and are going to make dungeons be a part of the world instead of instanced is encouraging, and maybe that will allow a community to grow in the game. Overall, it looks to be worth checking out.

The Agency is exciting as a change of place from fantasy roleplaying. I’ve heard many good things, and Sony has made excellent games before so I’m looking forward to hearing more about the actual gameplay. One problem I see is trying to release for both the PC and PS3, I think you’re looking for trouble if you divide your playerbase that way right from the beginning, but maybe it will work out for them.

I wanted to indulge myself and put in a wishlist of what games I’d like to see here, but I’m going to save it for another post. Hopefully this all gives you an idea of what my take is on the games that are coming this year.

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